Two forms of ye for all of ye

Two words, both spelled ye (homographs), have different meanings, and both are associated with older times.
Ye as a definite article is the same as the. It is an alteration of the Middle English word whose first character, called a thorn, looks like a cross between minuscule b and p and was pronounced th. Thorn looks like this: þ, and the is þe. (Thanks to Mark Roliff for sending þ.) The second letter is e, just as in ye. Ye was pronounced the, and yt was an abbreviation for that.
Ye as a definite article is popular with shops trying to evoke an 18th-century ambience, such as Ye Olde Pretzel Shoppe.
The other ye is a pronoun, the second person plural subjective, and derives from ME and Old English. It is still used in literary and ecclesiastical writing and is found in the King James version of the Bible. Do you think Southerners in the 17th century said ye-all?

This entry was posted in Language. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s